Hardly a deluge of efficiency

31st August 2007 at 01:00
Teaching staff and pupils at four schools in Barry, Vale of Glamorgan, will start the new school year in absolute chaos (page 3). However, officials appear to be slow off the mark in helping to ease the severe disruption a result of flood damage that seems likely to spill over well into 2008.

Hundreds of pupils will miss the start of the all-important autumn term and many more face the prospect of a winter in mobile classrooms. But the Assembly government says it is still waiting to hear official reports of damage assessment from the Vale of Glamorgan to make a bid for cash aid from the emergency financial assistance scheme, a fund set up by the Westminster government in the aftermath of the torrential downpour that swamped the UK during the wettest July on record.

In Gloucestershire, one of the worst affected areas, pound;500,000 has already been awarded to schools and children's services for the mass clear-up. They are clearly on the top of the surprise soaking that led to hundreds being evacuated from their homes and in fear of their lives.

A lack of action in Barry, by contrast, has led residents to claim they are the "forgotten victims" of flood-hit Britain this week. They allege this was the result of their homes being built on land prone to be boggy and that planning permission should never have been granted. Whatever the reason and it must be said the floods were nowhere on the scale of parts of England it seems drainage systems are not coping in the area.

For St Richard Gwyn RC School which has been hit by floods for the fourth time in 10 years it is clearly a problem that needs answers. Phil Whitcombe, headteacher of Bryn Hafren Comprehensive School, claims the summer deluge will cause four months of chaos with around pound;500,000 worth of damage to boot.

Bryan Jeffreys, the Vale of Glamorgan's director of learning and development, says the council has done all it can to ease disruption. But it does seem amazing that more action hasn't been taken to get all the county's pupils back to school on time.

Climate change experts are warning of wetter summers ahead. Surely our teaching staff and pupils deserve better than the seemingly delayed reaction to this "act of God"?

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